News of the Day: 5 January 2022

The Moscow Times: Russia on Wednesday confirmed 15,772 Covid-19 infections and 828 deaths.

RFE/RL: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has reiterated support for Kyiv, saying the bloc has a strong commitment to “massive consequences” for Russia if it were to attack its neighbor again. Speaking during a trip to Ukraine on January 5, Borrell told a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that Kyiv and Brussels have a common goal to ease tensions with Russia through “diplomatic means.”

Human Rights in Ukraine: Yevhen (or Eugene) Lavrenchuk, a Ukrainian theatre director who left Russia almost eight years ago was detained in Italy last month at Moscow’s request and is now awaiting a decision from the Italian authorities regarding his possible extradition to Russia.  While the details of Russia’s charges of ‘fraud on a large scale’ are unknown, it is certainly strange that an arrest warrant should have only been issued in Russia in July 2020.  This was over seven years after Lavrenchuk left Russia in protest over its invasion of Crimea and aggression against Ukraine. 

Human Rights in Ukraine: Kurtumer Chalgozov, the 23-year-old Crimean Tatar seized by FSB officers on 14 December, has publicly revealed details about his treatment that day and the methods used to get him to sign an agreement to collaborate with the FSB.  While none of this can be independently corroborated, Chalgozov’s account is similar to that recently given by Nariman Ametov and both men will be well aware of the danger they face by angering Russia’s FSB.  

CPJ: On December 24, a Russian court fined Google nearly $100 million in the largest of several recent fines for major platforms accused of failing to remove banned content, according to the The Washington Post. Local access to Twitter has been slowed for the same reason under a law passed in July, according to Reuters. The nature of the content involved in each case wasn’t clear, but regulators separately warned journalists and other social media companies not to allow information about anti-government protests earlier in the year.

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